Claudius as Machievellian Prince

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Claudius as a Machiavellian Prince. The Prince, by Niccolo Machiavelli, is a ‘how-to-guide’ for individuals on the quest for power. It teaches of attaining positions of power and maintaining them. Machiavelli diverts from the divine christian incorruptibility stance on leadership to a more mortal and realistic one. In his view, the end to political instability justifies the means no matter how shady they may be. He states, “Many have imagined republics and principalities that have never been seen or known to exist in reality. For there is such a difference between the way men live and the way they ought to live.... because anyone who determines to act in all circumstances the part of a good man must come to ruin among so many who are not good.” (Machiavelli p.186) Many of the virtues advocated for in The Prince are apparent in Claudius’ character from William Shakespeare’s play, Hamlet. Hamlet tells of the various activities that take place during a questionable shift of royal power in Denmark. It is the acquisition and maintenance of this power that shows just how Machiavellian Claudius’ character is in the play. Machiavelli believes that lands are best acquired through ones own arms and virtue rather than through fortune. “Since fortune is variable... I am of the opinion that it is better to be rash than over-cautious, because fortune is a woman and, if you wish to keep her down, you must beat her and pound her.” (Machiavelli p.188) Claudius does not let fortune dictate his destiny but rather takes it into his own hands by killing Hamlets father, who is also his brother. As he states, “O, my offense is rank, it smells to heaven; It hath the primal eldest curse upon’t, A brother’s murder.” (III, iii, 37-39) He continues to emphasize these virtues by marrying the kings wife, Gertrude. This is done in order to secure himself the throne which
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